Turn your back to luxury resort hotels and the (gentle) hustle and bustle of the village of Elounda; follow the causeway and cross the old stone bridge that literally takes you over an ancient sunken city to the little island of Kolokytha, and you will arrive at a very special place to stay. “Elounda Island Villas” sits all alone on the island, where construction is no longer allowed. Set in a flower-filled garden, a few interconnected buildings look out over the Bay of Spinalonga with Elounda in the background. It is a magical spot. The split-level houses are done in simple traditional Cretan style (flagstone floors, built-in couches and beds, local wooden furniture) and provide everything you need, without extras or fuss. I have known this place for many years and have always been very fond of it, not in the least because of the amiable family running it. Artist Leda Alexopoulou welcomes her guests in the charming outdoor café with its open-air kitchen where breakfast is served. Before walking to one of the nearby little beaches, or spreading your towel on one of the sunbathe-perfect rocks by the sea, you may find yourself lingering over an omelette and a yoghurt with fresh fruits and honey simply because the setting is so relaxed and laid back. This is a unique place to stay.
In an area of Crete known for its luxury holiday hotels and resorts, this little family-run place is delightfully different. The fantastic location and the friendly atmosphere set Elounda Island Villas (far!) apart.
Don’t expect anything too fancy or stylish in terms of accommodation. The Elounda Island Villas are made for easy-living without frills. But that of course it part of the charm!
5 maisonettes for 2 persons (3 standard and 2 superior)
4 maisonettes for maximum 4 guests (2 standard and 2 superior)
Prices for two persons from 95 Euro per night, taxes included. A minimum stay of three nights applies. For a full overview of room rates, please contact Leda.
Small shop selling original art work and gifts made by Greek artists
Boat hire (small motorboats that do not require a licence)
Massage (on request)
The houses of Elounda Island Villas are self-catering so you could stock up on groceries and cook your own meals. There’s no need, fortunately, to run to the shops as soon you arrive. You can have breakfast at the café of Elounda Island Villas and for lunch and dinner you can stroll to the really cute seaside taverna “Kanali” (only 300 metres away). The setting right by the water is a dream and the food (mainly seafood) is excellent. You have a good choice of restaurants in the village of Elounda as well, and you should also make sure to not miss out on a meal in the little fisherman settlement of Plaka, a few kilometres away. It has a handful of fish taverns; “Giorgos” is considered to be the best in the area. I had some really good grilled fish there.
Children are welcome at Elounda Island Villas, but if you are planning to travel of children below the age of six, Leda prefers to discuss it with you first, to see if the hotel is suitable to your needs. Even though they are not large, the houses are well laid out for families; four of them have two bedrooms. You can ask for a cot/crib and a high chair, and babysitting can be arranged. Right in front of the villas there is a tiny sandy beach with calm, shallow waters. It is really nice for toddlers to play there. There are a few more beaches on the north side of Kolokytha, about 20 minutes on foot.
I generally find Elounda Island Villas a great place for relaxed family holidays. It is a far cry from the type of resort hotel with swimming pools and all sorts of entertainment for kids, but the laid-back atmosphere make it just right for what I would call “quality family time”. Take your kids for walks, play on the beach and swim in the sea with them, read books, play games. You can rent a little motorboat for the day (you don’t need a licence) to take them around the island. And as long as you don’t go in the middle of the day, I am sure they will enjoy a visit to the rocky islet (and former leper colony!) of Spinalonga with its Venetian fortifications. (Read Victoria Hislop’s book “The Island” before you go!)
The location of Elounda Island Villas is also perfect for families with teenagers: while parents may enjoy the quiet of the night from their terrace, the younger ones can easily walk to the centre of Elounda for drinks and a night out.
Take your pick. There is a tiny beach practically at your doorstep, easy for a quick dip. Or spread your towel on the rocks a short stroll from the houses, perfect for snorkelling and diving. You can also pack a bottle of water and a snack and head for one of the small sandy beaches the other side of the island.
You will find information at the reception about possibilities for sailing and scuba diving, kite surfing and wind surfing. The hotel has a few kayaks, which guests are welcome to borrow.
From Plaka, hop over to the islet of Spinalonga and explore the remains of the 500-year-old Venetian fortifications, used as a leper colony in the in the first half of the 20th century.
Head for Agios Nikolaos for shopping and nightlife. Stroll through the centre and shop at traditional stores and trendy boutiques for herbs, local art, fashion and jewellery. Have drinks on one of the terraces by the charming sea lake, have dinner under the stars, and stay if you are in the mood, stay on for some bar hopping.
Elounda Island Villas are situated about one km from the centre of the Elounda on Crete, on the island (or peninsula) of Kolokytha. It is a magically quiet and secluded spot; there is no construction anywhere near. The houses are only 30 metres from the sea, and there is a tiny beach right in front (sand and shallow water; nice for small children) and on the north-facing coast, about 20 minutes walk away, there are a few more small beaches. Closer to the houses there are some fantastic flat rocks which are perfect for sunbathing and dips into the sea.
There are several ways to get to Crete. There are international airports near Heraklion and Chania, and ferries from Piraeus arrive at Chania, Rethymno, Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos. For a stay in Elounda, the port or airport of Heraklion or the port of Agios Nikolaos are the best choices. The drive from the airport (or port) of Heraklion takes about one hour. First you follow the signs for Agios Nikolaos as you get to Agios Nikolaos you turn left towards Elounda. Right before the centre of Elounda, look out for a sign for the ‘Sunken City’ (a sharp left from the main road) and follow the narrow road to the island. After you cross the bridge you will see Elounda Island Villas ahead of you.
I have stayed many summer holidays in Elounda Island Villas. I adore the nice houses. Kiki and Ilias are wonderful hosts. Every day we go to the rocks for long swims. We go out in Agios Nikolaos but it is so nice to come back to this quiet place. No noise at all at night! Very good food too.